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FSU football opponent Q&A: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

No one tell them their mascot looks like Buzz Killington.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

We’re very fortunate to have the SB Nation network of team sites to work with during game weeks. This week we’re chatting with SamuraiFoochs, a staff writer over at Blogger so Dear, SBN’s blog for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. We chatted about injuries, quantum mechanics, and puns.

TN: Tell us a bit about QB Jamie Newman. What’s his status for this game, how much is his injury affecting him, and how has he led Wake Forest to such a great start this season?

BSD: As of this writing, his status is undetermined. We know conclusively that he had a shoulder x-ray that was found to be negative for any significant structural damage, so he’s day to day. He’s been so great so far for a number of reasons. First off, he might be the most physically gifted quarterback Wake Forest has ever had. The dude is so big and so strong that in some ways he puts you in the mind of a very off-brand Cam Newton (to be clear I mean that as a compliment given how insane Cam was in college and early in his NFL career). It’s not all about raw power, though; Jamie throws a pretty spectacular ball with a lot of touch more often than not, so if Jamie Newman is healthy and OC Warren Ruggiero decides to pull out all the stops in terms of diversifying offensive playcalling, defenses need to prepare for pretty much anything (as evidenced by the insane production of the offense this season).

TN: Is Newman the reason why Wake’s offense has been so efficient this season? If Newman can’t go, what could FSU expect to see differently from backup Sam Hartman?

BSD: Yes and no. He’s obviously a huge part of it, but he’s behind a very good and experienced offensive line and has a glut of offensive weapons. A running back stable of Cade Carney, Christian Beal Smith, and Kenneth Walker III, combined with a hyper-athletic (and big) receiving corps with guys like Sage Surratt, Scotty Washington, and Kendall Hinton, and rounded off with an often underutilized effective tight end in Jack Frudenthal would have any offensive staff pretty happy regardless of the quarterback. Not only that, but Sam Hartman is the furthest thing from a scrub; he was actually the starter for much of the season last year and has very clearly developed his strength and size in the off-season, which was probably his biggest issue last year. I’d say Sam isn’t anywhere near the ground threat that Jamie is but if anything he’s probably better at throwing the ball. Unless I’m completely off my rocker here, I’m pretty sure that Newman to Hartman is closer to a lateral move than a lot of other teams would experience if they lost their starting QB.

TN: After three straight wins in one-score games the Demon Deacons finally dropped one last week against Louisville in what was also their first loss of the season. What went wrong against the Cardinals, and why has Wake been so successful in close games this year? Has it been luck, or something else?

BSD: Two words — special teams. We gave up 200+ kick return yards, including one touchdown, and also gave up a pretty substantial punt return to boot. I have no clue what the heck happened, but it was very strange. We’re not exactly peak Virginia Tech, but our kick coverage tends to be solid at the least. Last Saturday, however, was the worst performance I’d ever seen in that phase. Of course, the defense is hardly blameless either, giving up tons of big plays over the top and via missed tackles. As for why we’ve been so good in close games? Luck definitely plays a role, and it’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise, but that’s not the only thing. It seems like this group is just one of those teams that performs really well under pressure. They just seem to have that sort of x-factor. It’s a combination of offensive efficiency and the fact that the defense tends to come up with at least a few big plays per game, even if they tend to be mercurial, to put it politely.

TN: True or False - Danny Manning’s boys score more than 59 points against Louisville on the hardwood?

BSD: Reluctantly and with embarrassment, I’m going to say false. I really hope I’m wrong but let’s put it this way. I’m really glad we have football left, because the last couple basketball seasons have been... trying.

NCAA Football: Duke at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

TN: Why does Wake ride the mesh for what feels like an entire calendar year? Is Dave Clawson just a big fan of Erwin Schrödinger?

BSD: First off, that’s a prime name drop. Secondly, I have no idea, but it drives me nuts. On the one hand, it occasionally looks like genius, and it does showcase some pretty darn impressive snap decision making by Jamie Newman. On the other, though, it’s extremely weird and borderline gimmicky and also causes more than its share of of problems. I’m cautiously optimistic that if Hartman is running the show on Saturday we’ll be a little more traditional, but only time will tell.

TN: Talk a bit about the Demon Deacon defense - how big of a loss is Luke Masterson, who could step in to replace his role, what do the Deacs do well and not do well, and how might they challenge this FSU offense?

BSD: Luke is experienced, and definitely has his fair share of good showings, but I wouldn’t call him a lynchpin of the unit either. I’d say that the front seven for Wake is actually pretty good, with defensive lineman Carlos “Boogie” Basham and linebacker Justin Strnad being the keys of the defense. I’d say the secondary is where things really get dicey. If I’m being honest, I’m not really sure who will start in Luke’s place. This whole season has felt like defensive back by committee, with several guys (including Luke, if memory serves) shifting positions and the like throughout the year depending on what the staff thinks will work out best. I’ll say this, I do think the defense has performed better when the front seven has been able to do the heavy lifting, which comes into play when either the offensive line is a question mark, the opposing personnel are more big and strong than speedy and elusive, and/or when the opposing OC tends to lean on slower developing, power type plays in the run game.

TN: Why are you guys called Blogger So Dear?

BSD: It’s a reference to Wake Forest’s Alma Mater. I know every word (lamest flex ever, I know), but the phrase everyone knows is the ending that everyone belts out, “Mother So Dear”. Alumni sometimes refer to Wake as Mother So Dear, and so, it’s a pun.

TN: Wake Forest opened as just a 1.5 point favorite over FSU in Winston-Salem. Give us a score prediction for this game. How do you see this one playing out?

BSD: Oh jeez, I have no idea. I’ve been pretty on point with predictions so far this season, at least in a general sense. However, when you factor in my being shook by the Louisville game and the fact that I’ve made no bones about the fact that FSU scares me from a raw talent standpoint, I’m extremely torn. I think that line is probably pretty accurate, though. I think it will be extremely close, could easily go either way, and will likely not lack for chaos. In the end, though, I figure it’ll be a high scoring affair that Wake manages to escape via home field advantage. I’ll say 35-31 Wake.

A big thank you to SamuraiFoochs for taking the time to chat with us! You can find him on Twitter here. Click here to read our answers to his questions. Don’t forget to check out Blogger so Dear for your Demon Deacon coverage needs.